One hates to degrade the word tragedy, but if the rise and fall of Eliot Spitzer doesn't qualify as a modern one, what does?
The hounding press helicopters are flying over the Fifth Avenue apartment in which the Spitzers live, their children are being photographed and humiliated by the swarms of paparazzi as they leave for school, and his smart and attractive wife is grieving upstairs in her room as her husband tries to cut a deal with the prosecutors, his career, possibly his marriage, but surely his life in ruins.
By the time I write this Spitzer will have probably resigned his governorship, indeed, he may well be indicted and heading towards imprisonment shortly. And damn if I don't feel sorry for him, arrogant putz that he was, and probably still is.
No man should be brought down by his sexual life, unless he commits rape, incest or some other form of non-consensual sexual violence. The antiquated sex laws that still govern this country need to be overhauled, and quickly, or we will lose a generation of highly charged sexual men and women who want to commit their lives to public service and still get happily laid in the dirtiest possible way from time to time.
There can be no FDR's, no JFK's, no LBJ's, and no WJC's in America's future if sexual purity becomes the new standard for electability. I'll grant you that all except Clinton lived in an age when the press kept a closed eye, or at least a wink towards the sexual lives of American leaders, but if these leaders couldn't keep it in their pants, at least they kept it among obliging and discreet friends.
God help America if the faithful W and Library Laura are what we will get as a result of our demand for sexual purity, men and women who can order up and make war, committing violence against multitudes but manage to remain scandal free in their marriages. America was quite prepared to forgive W his old coke spoon, as long as he spouted his bible and remained faithful to his wife.
Spitzer's penchant for fancy pros and reckless money laundering was his undoing. We will never know if he went that route because he thought it was safer and more discreet than an affair (dumb-dumb-dumb!) or if he just got turned on more by paying for it, giving him a greater sense of control and dominance, as he ordered his sex from the expensive a la carte menu of the five star hotel.
Ah, if he had only found an obliging young intern - something WJC could survive - the story would be different. An affair, or multiple affairs, did nothing to harm Rudy G during his Mayoral days, except perhaps amongst his Republican base. But then he had his 9/11 moment that made people forget his disgusting marital behavior, and his total personal selfishness. An ambitious mistress whom a married politico eventually marries appears to be higher in the moral hierarchy than a hooker, or a pay for play escort. No, I don't believe that prostitution is a victimless crime, but I do think it should be regulated, not criminalized, in order to protect the real victims, the young women who ply that dangerous trade.
I will not be the first to note that it is the cover-up and the hypocrisy - both falling under the category of all out arrogance - that brought Spitzer low. Also, there is a suspicion on my part of extra zealous government action, the very kind of action that Spitzer himself took in his Attorney General days, an action that has hounded him and brought him down. Yes, it is the spite in the Spitzer name that helped destroy him. America hates a hypocrite, unless that hypocrite finds Jesus and spouts homilies.
One must also be suspicious of a federal judiciary run by the Bush administration. Spitzer was one of the shining lights of the Democratic Party, and we have a Republican government which will stop at nothing to destroy the opposition. Rove may be gone but Rovian behavior remains the gold standard in this administration.
But even suspecting an ambitious Republican AJ and others as being extra zealous in bringing Spitzer low, it is Spitzer himself who has undoubtedly done so. I feel sorrow for his wife, his kids, and his elderly parents, and hope that they all somehow get through this alive and begin to repair the terrible damage done so that they can go on to new lives.
And I would feel better if a moralizing media would cut the crap, and start blowing some kisses to Spitzer for giving them such a juicy scandal to exploit and profit from.